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Academic & Professional Books  Environmental & Social Studies  Natural Resource Use & Depletion

Pitfall The Dark Truth About Mining the World's Most Vulnerable Places

By: Christopher Pollon(Author)
304 pages, b/w maps
Publisher: Greystone Books
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  • Pitfall ISBN: 9781771649124 Hardback Oct 2023 Not in stock: Usually dispatched within 1-2 weeks
Price: £21.99
About this book Customer reviews Biography Related titles

About this book

A harrowing journey through the past, present, and future of mining, this expertly-researched account ends on a vision for how industry can better serve the needs of humanity.

A race is on to exploit the last bonanzas of gold, silver, and industrial metals left on Earth. These metals are not only essential for all material comfort and need, but for the transition to clean energy: in the coming decades, billions of tons of copper, nickel, silver, and other metals will be required to build electric vehicles, solar and wind installations, and green infrastructure. We need more metals than ever before, yet the qualities and quantities are diminishing, making the extraction process more polluting to land, air and water. And most of these metals will be mined from the global south, where social conflict will only grow, led by Indigenous peoples demanding a greater say in how their wealth is used.

The stakes couldn't be higher: How can we mine the metals we need without replicating the environmental and human rights abuses of the past?

Pitfall is the compelling story of the quest to exploit the metals our civilization needs-and at what cost to local people and their environments. Beginning with the first waves of big, foreign-owned mines in the 1960s, investigative journalist Christopher Pollon shows how transnational companies rose to dominate copper, precious metals, and lithium in Latin America, made inroads into war-torn countries in Africa, and exploited nickel, industrial metals, and rare earth metals across Asia and Oceania.

If we cannot change our course, Pollon argues, we are condemned to mine deeper and darker places, including the depths of the ocean, sacrifice zones, and near-earth asteroids. This disturbing vision of the future also includes robotic mines without workers and social license – unless we act now.

Published in Partnership with the David Suzuki Institute.

Customer Reviews


Christopher Pollon is an independent journalist who reports on the politics of natural resources, focusing on mining, oceans, and energy. His work has appeared in dozens of publications, including National Geographic, VICE, the Walrus, the Tyee, and the Globe and Mail. He is also the author of The Peace in Peril: The Real Cost of the Site C Dam. He lives in Vancouver, BC.

By: Christopher Pollon(Author)
304 pages, b/w maps
Publisher: Greystone Books
Media reviews

"Few realize that our current solution to climate change-renewable energy-threatens to create an environmental catastrophe of its own. Christopher Pollon's deeply researched, powerfully written book is just the primer we need to truly imagine a better future."
-J. B. MacKinnon, author of The Day the World Stops Shopping

"A harrowing and ruthlessly honest account that serves as a moral reckoning for our industrial age."
-Wade Davis, author of The Wayfinders and Magdalena: River of Dreams


"Christopher Pollon has scoured the planet to reveal the dark side of our consumer paradise, and the light at the end of the tunnel. Pitfall delivers a planetary investigation of the world's wildest industry-mining-and connects it straight to us."
-Arno Kopecky, author of The Environmentalist's Dilemma

"An important account: the world badly needs to replace fossil fuel mining with the production of minerals necessary for energy that won't destroy the climate. Christopher Pollon argues eloquently for reducing consumption, recycling materials, and trying to make sure mining actually benefits communities-it's a chance to get things right, or at least better, as we enter a new era."
-Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature

"Christopher Pollon is a rare journalistic voice writing about mining through the perspective of what humanity actually needs versus the financial imperatives of large firms and their investors. A crucial book for understanding the industry at the center of the world's clean energy revolution and how to make it less destructive."
-Geoff Dembicki, author of The Petroleum Papers

"A deeply reported and devastating critique of a seldom-examined business at the heart of the global economy... [Pollon's] forecast is grim-unless the world's richest nations consume less. His book may help persuade us."
-Chris Wood, award-winning journalist and author of Dry Spring

"In this timely and compelling account, Christopher Pollon makes it abundantly clear that we should think twice before trusting the mining industry to provide the materials-including cobalt, lithium, nickel, and rare earth metals-needed to build a more sustainable economy."
-Stuart Kirsch, author of Mining Capitalism

"Chilling, arresting-lifts the lid on just how murky getting the metals and minerals we take for granted can be."
-Peter Hain, Former anti-apartheid leader and UK Cabinet Minister

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